Week Two Review
It has been another amazing week here in Israel and everyone is enjoying a relaxing Family Weekend as we hit the midpoint of our summer here. This week, we explored the complexity of life here in Israel, with a particular focus on the many groups of people who make up the country, and what life looks and feels like for them. Our visit to Kibbutz Hannaton underlined this idea and it was fascinating to hear the campers ask questions and engage with residents of this Kibbutz, since it is one that truly values pluralism and compromise, something that is quite rare to see at this scale and in this manner in Israel. This theme continued during our visit to Givat Haviva, a kibbutz whose mission is to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. Once again, hearing our campers ask thoughtful questions to Arab-Israeli youth their own age, and sitting in on the eye-opening and respectful dialogue was inspiring.
After arriving in Jerusalem, the campers toured the old city and visited the Kotel, and during the evening, they got to hear from Yochi Rappeport, the executive director of “Women of the Wall”, and to ask her questions about her organization’s struggle and mission. The next day, the campers visited Har Herzl to learn about Israel’s fallen soldiers, and later visited an organization called Brothers for Life, where soldiers injured in combat help and support others who face similar physical and mental injuries. It was a very impactful visit and hearing former soldiers’ first-hand testimony was eye-opening for many of our campers.
So enjoy the new photo albums now posted on our blog, the more detailed camper-letter written below, and stay tuned for more photos and another update after Week 3!
Dear Camps Kadimah, Solelim, Shalom, Kinerret-Biluim, and Hatikvah,
Our second week in Israel was filled with fun adventures and learning. We started our week with a visit to Kibbutz Hannaton where our Poland tour-guide and friend Eyal, a resident at the Kibbutz, was there to meet us. We learned about the Kibbutz’s focus on pluralism, where residents of different backgrounds, races, and varying practices of Judaism live together in harmony. On Monday we visited Giv’at Haviva, where we began learning about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, with a focus on the Green Line. We drove to Barta’a, a town divided into East and West sides, the East side belonging to the West Bank and the West side to Israel. While many campers felt slightly uncomfortable the feeling that we did not belong, it was important to be exposed to these complicated issues and feel some discomfort. Many of us felt like we saw a new side of the country, one where things are not as black and white as we had once thought.
We then began our journey to Jerusalem. After a lengthy bus ride we arrived at Mount Scopus, where we were greeted with a beautiful view of Jerusalem. We said Shehecheyanu and commenced our arrival to the Holy City with some grape juice. The following day began with a tour of the Old City. A particular highlight was the Pizur lunch, where many campers enjoyed some authentic Israeli cuisine. In the afternoon we visited the Kotel- a special experience for all of us, especially those who have never been. We also got to see a view of the Kotel in a way unfamiliar to many- the underground tunnels. That evening we heard from Yochi Rappeport, the executive director of Women of the Wall, an organization dedicated to fighting for women’s rights to pray, wearing holy garments (i.e. tefillin), and reading the Torah scroll freely. It was an eye-opening experience for both genders, as many of the stories and personal experiences Yochi shared were quite surprising.
The next morning we visited Mount Herzl and the National Military Cemetery. We visited the graves of prominent figures in Israel’s history like Theodore Herzl, Yitzhak Rabin, and Golda Meir. We then visited the military cemetery where we heard the heroic stories of several fallen soldiers. For lunch we headed to Machaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem’s famous shuk. Campers were able to try a variety of new foods and interact with the merchants of the market. That evening we headed to Ben Yehuda street, where we had free time to explore, buy jewellery, and eat some good food. On Thursday morning we visited Brothers for Life- a non-profit organization that focuses on injured male combat soldiers, suffering from physical and or mental injuries, helping one other in their days after service. Many campers were quite moved by the experience, especially after hearing the personal stories of several injured combat soldiers and how Brothers for Life helped them through a process of recovery. After an intense week we boarded the busses to go our separate ways for Family Weekend. We are all looking forward to seeing one another and continue exploring Israel next week.
We are thinking about all of you and our camps back in Canada!
Gabi Katz and Amanda Gawza (Camp Kadimah)
Lauren Hudson (Camp Hatikvah)
Leah Goldberg and Jordan Epstein (Camp Solelim)
Zack Cohen (Camp Kinneret)